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Orchardist Implements Irrigation Water Management, Saves his Trees and a lot of Water

Highlights in Conservation icon

Orchardist Implements Irrigation Water Management, Saves his Trees and a lot of Water

Okanogan County organic orchardist Crispin Ramirez.

Ramirez admires his Organic Gala crop.

Location icon
Okanogan County, City of Tonasket

Project Summary icon
Orchardist saves large quantities of water

Conservation Partners icon
Crispin Ramirez (landowner/orchardist), NRCS, Okanogan Conservation District

Resource Challenges icon
Inefficient use of water, harmful levels of pesticides and nutrients (especially N) in groundwater, crop health and production, and inadequate wildlife habitat.

Conservation Program Used icon
EQIP: Implemented irrigation water management, nutrient management, pest management with reduced risk pesticides and mating disruption, updated some irrigation systems with micro sprinklers.

Results and Accomplishments icon
With the assistance from the NRCS and the Okanogan Conservation District, Ramirez began monitoring his soil moisture and developed irrigation water management plans. One block of the orchard was found to be sub-irrigated and remain moist through mid summer. His trees were yellow and produced small fruit. He changed his management here from irrigating once a week with 12 hour sets, to only two or three times a year with a 6 to 8 hour set to refill the upper soil profile. In another block, he had unhealthy and dying young trees in very course droughty soil. Ramirez changed his irrigation in this block from weekly 12 hour sets to 6 hour sets as needed based upon the evapotranspiration rate (about every four days in the hot season). Due to the low water holding capacity of the soil, shallow root zone of the trees, and variable rate of evapotranspiration, utilizing IWM was critical to apply the right amount of water at the right time. By utilizing irrigation water management, including the use of automated soil moisture sensors, the trees have bounced back.

"My trees looked really bad before this program. Now they look healthy, they are growing vigorously, and are producing large beautiful fruit," said Ramirez, who estimates nearly 60 percent in water savings through implementing IWM.

Contact icon
Dan Olson, NRCS Soil Conservationist, Okanogan (509) 422-2750

NRCS, Fall 2010

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